Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Tiny Dancer

Madeline is our little ballerina. It seemed like she started leaping around the house to classical music a few minutes after she learned to walk. So last week, she began ballet lessons at the Ann Carroll School of Dance. I have never seen her more in her element! Her joy and pride actually kept me awake that night...I simply couldn't believe we hadn't signed her up sooner. Well, actually, we did try when she was much younger and she wasn't quite ready to be separated from me -- she cried the whole time. What a turn of events! This afternoon, she boldly ran in, excited to see her teacher, Miss Jen, then casually said, "Okay mommy. You can please go now." And when I had to sneak back in for something, she looked at me with an exasperated expression as if to say, "Really?" I took it as a sign of her growing confidence and independence, so instead of feeling sad, I actually felt triumphant (especially since it gives me hope that Charlie's current separation anxiety won't last forever either).

Last week, Miss Jen couldn't believe Madeline had never danced before and told me she was a powerhouse. She looked adorable in her pink leotard and tights, ballet slippers and chiffon ballet skirt, doing arabesques, plies and arranging her feet into first position with her wiry little arms above her head. Each week, they alternate between tumbling and tap for the last 15 minutes of class -- I just about died watching her do the bunny hop in her little patent leather tap shoes. Charlie kept saying "bang bang bang" since he's been listening to her practice at home.

The best moment of all was when all the little girls were finished with class and standing in line for their turn at the drinking fountain. Charlie broke away from the waiting parents and sprinted down the hall to Madeline literally shouting, "Yeah, Mimi! Yeah Mimi!" at least six times. He was only doing exactly what I wanted to!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Arkansas Surprise!

We had a fabulous trip to visit my grandma, "Big Madeline," in Arkansas with my family the week before last! Andi and Kyle drove from St. Louis, and my dad and Ning rented a beautiful condo overlooking Greers Ferry Lake, where I spent summers every year eating my grandma's fried chicken at the base of Sugar Loaf Mountain, boating with my grandpa and swimming until I had pool blisters on my toes. My dad and Ning surprised us all by flying Mollie in from Denver! We were only sorry that Kenny had to work and couldn't come too.

It was so special to be all together; Madeline and Charlie were in heaven with Papa tickling them and going for adventure walks, Ning hiding magical jelly beans in her purse for little fingers to find, and Aunt Mollie, Aunt Andi and Uncle Kyle's nonstop silly games. My grandma stayed with us at the condo each day until the sun went down; when we first arrived, Madeline climbed into her lap (all dolled up in Ning's jewelry) and cuddled with her for 10 times longer than she'll ever snuggle with me, gently touching her face and laughing -- it was a moment that brought tears to my eyes.

One of the highlights was the festive birthday party Nancy and my grandma planned for Madeline -- my aunt even drove in from Little Rock! Mimi put on one of her new fancy dresses and applied her very own electric pink eyeshadow for the occasion. My grandma ordered a beautiful birthday cake -- Madeline was so excited to see her name in pink icing!

We also spent a morning on a rented pontoon boat and watched Rob and Kyle skip rocks from the shore; both Madeline and Charlie loved steering the boat (and blowing the horn) with Papa. The kids enjoyed going to my grandma's house, playing in her Red Hatter hats and taking golf cart rides while Rob and Ning helped get my grandma set back up on her computer (she loves to email and lost her connection). Rob and Kyle had a blast playing a round of golf; my sisters and I couldn't help but notice a budding bro-mance when they returned, playing with the iPad and eating snacks together on the couch.

The best is the fun we have all together just sitting on the couch with coffee or cocktails (me: virgin), laughing hysterically, catching up or hatching plans.